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106th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art to focus on mass incarceration in America

The installation, Women of York: Shared Dining, will be included in the upcoming exhibition, Carceral States.

The installation, Women of York: Shared Dining, will be included in the upcoming exhibition, Carceral States.

The Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College will hold the opening of its 106th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Carceral States, on Friday, Sept. 22 with a reception from 5-7 p.m.

The first Annual Exhibition was installed at the College in 1911. It is the longest-running series of original exhibitions of contemporary art staged by any academic institution in the United States. Acquisitions from each of the Annuals have helped to build the College’s collection of American art, chiefly paintings, works on paper, and photographs dating from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Traditionally the Annual is a group exhibition inspired by a common theme. The 106th Annual Exhibition focuses on the growing national debate about mass incarceration in America, approaching the theme from a breadth of perspectives by a number of important contemporary American artists. Included in the exhibition are both documentary and landscape photography, paintings, prints and sculpture.

Carceral States offers the directness of the photojournalist tradition as well as more aesthetically-centered works which have meaningful things to say about incarceration in ways that are uncovered gradually. It also features works created through intensively collaborative projects that engage diverse communities, and in those cases the value of the engagement itself becomes the emphasis of the work. Artists included in the exhibition are Sandow Birk, Alyse Emdur, Maria Gaspar, Duron Jackson, Mansura Khanam, Mark Strandquist, Stephen Tourlentes, Treacy Ziegler, and the Women of York.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, since 1980 the number of prisons in the United States has quadrupled. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

Maier Director Martha Kjeseth Johnson stated, “In addition to these staggering numbers, there are a host of ethical quagmires swirling around the current state of incarceration, such as mandatory sentencing, the handling of juveniles, racist practices, punishment versus rehabilitation, reentry challenges, and prisons as profit centers.”

Carceral States also includes the installation, Women of York: Shared Dining. In 2013, a group of 10 women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut, calling themselves “Women of York,” created this work inspired by Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist masterpiece, The Dinner Party. Shared Dining uses individual stories to raise questions about politics, gender, and incarceration. In 2015 it was temporarily installed alongside Chicago’s The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum.

Carceral States will remain on view through Dec. 15. The Maier will hold a variety of programs related to the exhibition over the next several months, including family workshops, lectures, and tours. On Oct. 20-22, the Maier will hold its 26th Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium. The symposium will include a screening and discussion of the documentary 13th, an artist talk by Mansura Khanam, a lecture on Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, a panel discussion with four of the Women of York, and a lecture about food access and incarceration.

Visit for more information about programs and events at the Maier. During the academic year, the Maier is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission to the Maier and its programs are free, unless otherwise noted.

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